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View Full Version : Roland Mobile Cube: I found my amp!



Plainsong
02-15-2011, 08:55 AM
I have tried many an amp big and small, tube and solid state, acoustic specific and not, and nothing has come close to being it for me than this little guy.

My first guitar amp was a Vox, I think it was a 15w Pathfinder. That was a fine amp to match with a Japanese Fender Strat. My husband mostly played that one because I sucked at guitar, but for the purpose of an amp for an apartment on a budget, there was none finer.

Then when I got the Risa uke stick, everyone said "Get the Microcube." My husband was skeptical because he hates Roland from his keyboard days. But I got it and it did fine. It was bit artificial though, and not in a good way. It was just very cold and harsh. It's probably great with an electric guitar, but not nylon strings and piezo pickup.

So I decided to get a budget acoustic amp, a Kustom Siena blah blah whatever it was. It was fine, but it hummed and hissed, and my George-L cable may not be the best, but it's not that bad either. Plus, like acoustics are, it was freaking huge. I'm playing in a living room, not pretending I'm in a stadium. If volume is no issue, I'd prefer to match small instrument with small amp.

I tried a Vox DA5, and found that much nicer than the Microcube, while doing much the same thing. Vox knows a thing or two about what people want in a cheap amp. So I got that, but then I discovered that firstly, no acoustic tone of course, and secondly, too many options. It's the same problem for me as the Microcube: I spend 2 minutes playing and an hour trying all the different settings to settle on one I like. I do still say though that it's better at being a Microcube than the Microcube is though.

Then I picked up an Orance Crush Micro for 30 bucks and that was and is a fun little guy. It's got a dirty sound but in a good way. I'd probably take it with me more if not for one tiny issue: No handle, and it won't fit in a gig bag. It's always the little things..

Then I stumbled upon the Mobile Cube. It looked cheap and plastic, and expensive with less power than a DA5. But hold on, it's got an acoustic channel, because it's basically a keyboard amp that they made a do-everything amp. And it's a Roland. Hmmm... But I got excited and pulled the trigger.

Wow wow wow! This is 1000% better than the Microcube! It's built like a freaking tank! It's got enough bells and whistles to play with, but few enough that you don't spend much time doing that. The acoustic channel is great, and I've not tried the mic channel yet, but I suspect it might be more purist. The chorus isn't adjustable, but it's darn nice so who cares. The reverb and delay are subtle but if you're a reverb and delay junkie you probably have pedals for that. I like subtle. It's more believable sound. The chorus is not subtle, but that's how I like my chorus. There's only one tone control, but it works. There's also plenty of room on the volume dial.

It even works as computer speakers, but I'd like to find my mini-to-RCA, since the amp will take that. It obviously does mini-mini as well. There's a mids bypass if you want to karoke, and it's not 100%, but it's close enough for jazz, as my favorite band director would say.

Of course you don't have to use just the acoustic channel. You could use the mic, or switch the dial to normal or fat keyboard sound. Or you could pretend it's a steel string and choose E. Guitar. The clean setting is crunchy and dirty in a good way. It's a nice difference to the acoustic setting. And the overdrive and distortion are the best I've heard from an amp with no pedals and a uke yet.

So to some it up, there's nothing this little guy can't do. It sounds better than the cubes that came before it, it's built like a tank. The two speakers give less of a boxy sound (although we're not talking miracles here, it's still a small amp), it's all the amp I'll ever need. There are lots of great acoustic amps out there, but my needs aren't for those.

Roland, you've converted me with this one! You make me wish my Kanile'a had a pickup.

Edit: I forgot to mention the tube amp, the Harley Benton.. forget the model number, but it's an Epiphone Valve Jr internally, plus tone control. It's your basic warm tube amp sound. It's what my husband uses if playing guitar. I have nothing bad to say about it really, except it was too big for my needs.

Flockheart
02-15-2011, 08:59 AM
I got the Mobile Cube for my Risa Stick too and it's a great little amp! :)

SailingUke
02-15-2011, 09:56 AM
I like my Micro, but I use the "Mic" setting for my ukuleles.
Seems cleaner and more ukulele sounding.

Papa Tom
02-15-2011, 10:58 AM
The Mobile Cube is awesome, but it's a bit of a battery eater. Just yesterday, I picked up the power adapter for it. $30, but I think it will pay off big time in the long run.

tjomball
02-15-2011, 02:27 PM
The Harley Benton one might be GA5H combo..
Otherwise congrats on your new amp..

ricdoug
02-15-2011, 09:02 PM
Those Mobile's are nice, Plainsong. For a little bit more you can get a Roland Cube Street, that has two 6.5" dual cone speakers with the addition of an XLR microphone input. While it's not as compact as the mobile, it produces much louder and cleaner sound. The ultimate battery powered amp for acoustic instruments is the Roland AC-33. It runs on 8 AA rechargeable NiMH batteries for 12 hours at 30 watts (15 watts X 2 stereo). I have a large collection of battery powered amps that we use for live performances on Pacific beaches, street faires and festivals:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?5333-Battery-powered-ukulele-amplification...

If your budget ever justifies a Roland BA-33, you'll be amazed at the sonic accuracy and volume. Ric

Plainsong
02-16-2011, 11:22 AM
I was asking a guitar playing friend about the Cube Street, and he claims the Mobile Cube is cleaner and in all ways better. I've not heard the Cube Street though, but he was saying it has all sorts of issues that the Mobile Cube doesn't have. His advice has been solid in the past, and there were a few youtube reviews that said the same thing, so I went in the Mobile Cube direction. I haven't used my own ears to see if it holds any weight though.

I tried out the mic input today, and that would be useful if you had a tough to drive pickup, or needed more volume, or you want chorus but not so much of it, but it doesn't sound as good as the acoustic channel. The E.Guitar settings are for a bit of fun, but still not the acoustic channel.

If I ever see a cube street in the wild, I'll check it out, but I'm very very low on the dial with the mobile cube. One nice thing is that it's small enough to pack as speakers when we go on vacation. We're addicted to some white noise Soothing Rain sounds. :)

bazmaz
02-16-2011, 11:48 AM
i played a friends micro cube recently. I loved it. It does though all depend on budget and what you want from it.

I agree - it blows the Orange Crush out of the ukulele water - but (sorry to buck the trend) if money is not so much of an issue, the roland is far from a good acoustic circuit amp. I use a Marshall AS50R which I recommended to a few folks on here - the sweetest bang for buck amp I think there is

Admittedly - much more expensive than the Roland, and am not trying to run this thread down, so thank you - I think I may actually buy the Roland for gigging in smaller groups!

Plainsong
02-16-2011, 01:22 PM
The micro and mobile cubes are different animals. I thought the microcube was pretty horrid too for an acoustic. The Mobile Cube is a keyboard/acoustic all rounder.

I'd love the Marshall but it's bound to be way way way way too loud for and too huge for my needs. I know huge means better space in the sound, but I think it'd be more for if we had a house.

ricdoug
02-16-2011, 05:35 PM
the roland is far from a good acoustic circuit amp. I use a Marshall AS50R which I recommended to a few folks on here - the sweetest bang for buck amp I think there is

Paul, all of the Roland Microcubes are made for electric guitar. The acoustic setting is to make an electric guitar emulate the sound of an acoustic guitar. They will all work with acoustic guitars and keyboards, though. The Roland Acoustic Chorus AC-33 is purpose built for acoustic instruments. It's the little brother of the Roland AC-60 and Roland AC-90. I can busk for pretty large crowds, singing and playing an acoustic/electric ukulele or acoustic/electric guitar. Two things the Marshall can't do (I love the clean sound of the Marshall) is run on battery or fit nicely in luggage. Check out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M73I-UQdFuk&NR=1

Plainsong
02-17-2011, 12:38 AM
Ok again, the micro and mobile cubes are different! Look it up. The mobile cube has more in common with a keyboard amp, which has more in common with acoustic amps. Head-desk head-desk...

ricdoug
02-19-2011, 11:22 AM
It's not my intention to knock the Mobile Cube, Plainsong. The Mobile Cube has many benefits, to include ultra compact size and light weight. Here's photos from Roland's website that shows applications of the Roland Cube Street:

http://www.roland.com/products/en/CUBE_Street/features.html

http://www.roland.com/products/en/CUBE_Street/images/setup_L.jpg

http://www.roland.com/products/en/CUBE_Street/images/application_L.jpg

Which is similar to Roland's website depiction of the Roland Mobile Cube's applications:

http://www.roland.com/products/en/MOBILE_CUBE/features.html

http://www.roland.com/products/en/MOBILE_CUBE/images/setup_L.jpg

Plainsong
02-19-2011, 05:48 PM
Umm yes, I know that. That's why I got it? It's just that it was hinted earlier in this thread that the acoustic setting is for electric guitars to sound acoustic. That's not the case, as your diagram shows. My hypothesis is that these all-rounder amps aren't miracle workers, it's just that used what they know about keyboard ampage to apply it to all-around use, and their modeling has always been good in recent history. I'd like to compare to the cube street at some point, but I was told the cube street was only better on paper. If that's true, I can't say, other than it looks kinda big for what I was going after. It's especially fun having an amp that can sit on the end table and still put out some sound. Using it for on the audio channel, it's pretty loud with a macbook and a Headroom Total Bithead.